of action. Plaintiffs assert that damages flowing from the fraud underlying those actions were fixed in the first trial at $ 1,930,500, and that defendant is collaterally estopped from relitigating the amount of damages. The court disagrees.
Under the doctrine of collateral estoppel, a party may preclude an adversary from relitigating an issue of fact or law which has previously been decided against that adversary in a proceeding in which he had a fair opportunity to fully litigate the issue. Staffer v. Bouchard Transp. Co., 878 F.2d 638, 644 (2d Cir. 1989); Rubel v. Eli Lilly & Co., 681 F. Supp. 151, 153 (S.D.N.Y. 1987) (applying New York law of collateral estoppel). For collateral estoppel to apply, the issue in question must be identical to the issue already tried and decided. Thistlethwaite v. City of New York, 497 F.2d 339, 341-42 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 1093, 42 L. Ed. 2d 686, 95 S. Ct. 686 (1974).
The purpose of collateral estoppel is to preclude the repeated controversy over matters once judicially determined. Lytle v. Household Mfg. Co., 494 U.S. 545, 553, 108 L. Ed. 2d 504, 110 S. Ct. 1331 (1990). It is "a reasonable measure calculated to save individuals and courts from the waste and burden of relitigating old issues." Tillman v. Nat'l City Bank of New York, 118 F.2d 631, 634 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 314 U.S. 650, 86 L. Ed. 521, 62 S. Ct. 96 (1941). It also serves to obviate the "unsavory situation of inconsistent verdicts." In re Air Disaster at John F. Kennedy Int'l Airport, 479 F. Supp. 1118, 1128 (E.D.N.Y. 1979).
In the instant case the doctrine of collateral estoppel did not preclude the court from submitting the issue of damages to the jury because the issue of damages as to defendant Mahshie was not decided by the first jury. While that jury found in its general verdict that Abou-Khadra and/or SPPI owed Bseirani $ 1,930,500 relating to Bseirani's business dealings with SPPI, the jury never specified what portion of that overall amount was owed by defendant Mahshie. For instance, after finding that Mahshie was liable for conspiring to acquire from Bseirani a 49 percent interest in SPPI, the jury was asked what amount of damages resulted. The jury responded that the damages relating to Mahshie "are included in" the $ 1,930,500 general verdict. Transcript, Doc. 235, at 20. The jury gave an identical response when asked to enumerate the damages on the other causes of action against Mahshie. See Transcript, Doc. 235, at 21 (relating to question 15; conspiracy to defraud Bseirani into believing he was an owner of CSE), at 23 (relating to question 26; conspiracy to acquire 49 percent interest in SPPI), and at 25 (relating to question 35; conspiracy to conduct the Abou-Khadra/Bseirani business venture). Because the first jury failed to put a sum certain on the damages owed by Mahshie, the issue of damages owed by Mahshie was not "decided" in a previous proceeding, and the previous determinations did not collaterally estop the court from submitting the issue of damages to the second jury.
Further, the first jury did not apportion its general verdict of $ 1,930,500 arising out of "business dealings in connection with SPPI" among the several causes of action relating to SPPI. Thus plaintiffs' argument that Mahshie's liability was determined by the first trial because he is jointly and severally liable as a co-conspirator must fail, in that it is impossible to determine the amount of damages awarded for any particular conspiracy claim. Therefore, plaintiffs' motion for partial judgment as a matter of law is denied.
In summary, defendant's motions for judgment as a matter of law or a new trial, or in the alternative to limit the compensatory damages awarded by the jury to $ 237,500 are denied. Plaintiffs' cross-motion to modify the verdict is also denied. The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment consistent with this Memorandum-Decision and Order.
It is So Ordered.
Dated: March 2, 1995
Syracuse, New York
HOWARD G. MUNSON
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE